I think backups is one of those topics that if you ask 10 people for an opinion you'll receive 15 responses.
For myself, I use old hardware and I use removable hard drive bays. I temporarily install spare hard drives for my backups. People with more modern hardware could use USB sticks. Although some people might recommend CDs or DVDs, I always have thought that option too slow and cumbersome for my needs.
Because I use hard drives and I am not supporting any large network or additional users, I don't worry about compression. I use one spare disk for full backups and another for differential backups.
I use a separate partition on my installed hard drive to store temporary snapshots when I know I am purposely going to tinker. In that location I copy only configuration files, primarily the entire /etc
directories, but also unique files such as certain X11 or KDE config files.
I use two scripts that evolved slowly as my own understanding of my system and needs grew.
I use a partitioning scheme to provide another layer of protection. I maintain /boot, /home, /tmp, /var, /usr/local, /opt all on separate partitions.
FWIW, I maintain backup copies of individual files using the .bak
extensions, for files such as xorg.conf
, grub menu.lst
, etc. That way if I hose my box I can restore those files quickly.
Lastly, I install an alternate installation of Slackware to provide me an emergency back door to get into all of my partitions should I hose my primary installation in an inaccessible manner.
Of course, some people use RAID to provide another layer of protection.
One technique for developing a backup strategy is to perform a walk-through of trying to restore files.
The bottom line is that every user needs to experiment and customize their backup strategy to taste. Don't be afraid to modify your own strategy as you move along.